Contributed by Brian & Deirdre O’Ruairc
Born in Sandymount, Dublin, Ireland in 1946, Brian O’Ruairc grew up in a large extended family. At 14, he joined the Franciscan brothers. He left the Franciscans ten years later and went as volunteer with the Frontier Apostles organized by Bishop O’Grady, to the Prince George diocese, B.C., Canada for two years, paid $25.00 a month, room and board. His first posting was in Fort St. James, looking after maintenance of the Catholic school, there he met Fr. Ivan McCormack, who became a very close friend. Fr. Ivan was a flying missionary priest for the outlying reserves. He recruited Brian to come to Fort Ware to build a community hall. Brian spent several years in Fort Ware building the community hall and homes for the local people, also helping Fr. Ivan at other reserves. Brian made some lifelong friends with the people in Fort Ware, one who came to visit with his family of ten, many years later as his son was in a skidoo accident and was a patient in Vancouver General. They stayed with the O’Ruairc family for three weeks.
During Brian’s time in Fort Ware he went home to Ireland for six weeks, but ended up staying for six months. His sister Grainne introduced him to her friend Deirdre Shelley, who he quickly fell in love with, and proposed after three weeks. They married in June 1974, and the following day flew back to Vancouver, then Prince George, Fort St. James and up to Fort Ware. It was quite the adventure for both of them. Deirdre was 21, and a real city girl, arriving by float plane on the Finlay River, into Fort Ware and for Brian returning after six months with a bride. After three months in Fort Ware, they moved to Prince George, where Deirdre experienced her first white Christmas. January 1975 they moved to the lower mainland. Brian joined Walter Cabot construction, who Brian had met in Fort Ware. Walter and family became close friends and helped Brian and Deirdre purchase their first home and start their own construction company Shamrock Renovation and Construction Ltd in 1976 – it specialized in new homes, residential and commercial construction.
September 1976 their first child was born, a daughter Sinead Alice. They went on to have six children, Sinead, Shane, Sheila, Aisling, twins Conn and Tiarnan. Sadly, Tiarnan died at six months. Together Brian and Deirdre have run Shamrock very successfully for 43 years through all the ups and downs on high interest rates, ups and downs with the economy and family life. Brian was very involved in the PTA of the children’s various schools. As their children grew up and got homes of their own, Brian and Deirdre joined the South Surrey Rotary Club. They have always worked very well as a team. They became very active, winning many awards. Brian became director of International projects, and along with other Rotarians went to Battambang, Cambodia to work on an orphanage, upgrading electrical and sewer systems and educating locals on simple maintenance. They also went to Bangkok, Thailand and did a rebuild of an AIDS hospice. Both projects were sponsored by their Rotary club and are ongoing projects. Brian has been there on five different occasions.
Brian and Deirdre are very involved with the Irish community in the lower mainland and the Irish Club of White Rock. Brian now lives in White Rock with Deirdre, celebrating 47 years together, five children and thirteen grandchildren, all living very close by. Brian enjoys spending time with the grandchildren, teaching them many life skills and sharing some very interesting stories, he is a bit of a “Seanchai”. The family’s parish in White Rock is Star of the Sea, same as in Sandymount – life has come full circle.